What Your Parents Don’t Know About Video Games


Boy and Girl Playing Video Games

Today, I often find myself believing in the first thing I read or hear about a certain topic. Take, for instance, video games. Have you ever heard a parent tell his child, “You shouldn’t be playing so many video games. Your mind is going to become mush?” Being an avid fan of video games, I have never agreed with this opinion. Throughout my childhood, and college life, I have clocked many hours playing video games; however, I have never once let them take over my life or let my mind go to “mush.” I have sustained a constant 3.4GPA at Bucknell University and successfully juggled my duties as a student, President of the Club Hockey team, and fraternity member. Although this only represents my opinion about video games, it seems as though recent research supports my argument that video games do not make one’s brain “mush.”

Earlier this year, The University of Glasgow released a research study about how the consumption of video games and television changes the behaviors of young children. They concluded that a steady diet of video games doesn’t result in significantly altered behavior. This study pulled data from Great Britain’s ten-year Millennium Cohort Study and looked at how “conduct problems, emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, hyperactivity/inattention and prosocial behavior” were changed by the amount of television or video games a child engaged with.

Research shows that video games actually improve childrens' cognitive abilities.

Research shows that video games actually improve childrens’ cognitive abilities.

 

Although television is widely regarded to as being more harmless than playing videogames, the Glasgow study provided evidence that watching television for three hours or more on a daily basis at five years old caused an increase of conduct problems between the ages of five and seven years old. In terms of video games, no corollary effect was found. In fact, the American Psychologist believes that playing strategic video games actually both improves learning, health and social skills, and strengthens a range of cognitive abilities including problem solving, reasoning, memory and perception.

Although these studies probably aren’t what parents want to hear, they will be pleased to know that there are some setbacks to video games. One example is children becoming less able to distinguish between fact and fiction. After reading these research articles, I definitely believe that playing video games has its pros and cons; however, one must be conscious of the amount of time spent playing games. I grew up in a family that promoted outdoor activities. I played hockey, baseball, golf, and soccer my entire life. I also dedicated a great amount of time to my studies and social life. The only time of the day that I really play video games at all is at night. In order for video games to be a truly enjoyable part of one’s life, they must be placed at an appropriate rank in one’s daily agenda.

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11 thoughts on “What Your Parents Don’t Know About Video Games

  1. I have kind of a painful history when it comes to video games. As the youngest of three girls, my older sisters would never let me play video games when we were young. They developed the idea that every time I was in the room during their games, they would lose. So I quickly became bad luck and banned from video games. I have no doubt that this spoiled my hand-eye coordination for life. I’m only a little bitter about it…
    But I think you bring up some great points in your post. There are certainly pros and cons to video games, but I think like everything in life, the key is moderation. The right games can enhance important problem-solving and logic skills. And of course, hand-eye coordination could be a great benefit as well.
    Great post!

      • On other hand, many video games require a certain skill-set. Those skills are definitely improved as you play the game for prolonged period of time, but the some skills could hardly be applied to real life.
        For instance, Starcraft does enhance the multitasking capabilities. The game also teaches you to think about micro and macro aspects of the game at the same time. But often the measure of skill is in APM (Actions per minute), which is based on your ability to mash correct buttons faster than others. Quite a useless ability outside of the game, if you ask me.

        Jordi, I know you are secretly a professional League of Legends player. You know better than I do that some games require the skillz 😉

  2. There is a lot more research beyond the Glasgow report too. I think the bulk of it is similar, at a certain age, playing games has at most some weak, mixed effects on negative outcomes for kids.

    The violence piece to me was a particularly glaring red herring. Are video games violent? Many, most, yes. But, did you ever look at a roadrunner cartoon? At little red riding hood? A wolf (who seems a little rape-y when you are old enough to get it) EATS grandma. We ALWAYS use scary stuff with kids. What damages kids is seeing real violence in their family, in their environment. Seeing someone beaten at school, seeing mom beaten by her boyfriend she tolerates because she needs the income, those moments will shape kids way more.

    I would think the key issue is substitutions. Are kids substituting video games for active play? For reading? For other interests?

    My kids play minecraft a lot. And they watch less TV because of it.

    • I guess the video game by itself does not have a tremendous effect on player’s behavior and mentality. Millions of people play games after all. However, the video games, especially violent ones, could possibly serve as a trigger for those predisposed to committing violence – a catalyst of a sort. Over past several years, in some events that involved shooting, schools and teenagers, video games were guilty. It definitely does not prove the negative impact of games, but the public opinion is swaying that way.

  3. I was initially turned off by Lumosity because it cost money; however, now I look back on my reasoning and question why I came up with such a shallow reason. I guess I just didn’t view it as an equal substitute to Playstation games. I think this study has solidified my support of video games, as long as they are played in moderation. It is crucial to make sure that life activities are balanced when one has a great interest in video games.

  4. I have been playing games since my middle school, and lots of my social network are based on it. Gaming are being accepted those days and people starts to realize that it is not only a thing for people have nothing to do. Last week, Valve (the owner of Steam platform and Dota 2) posted a documentary about professional gaming—-Free To Play(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjZYMI1zB9s). I finished it at the first night. Although it can be seen as a campaign for Dota 2, the game, I can not help to be touched about the stories in it. I used to have chance to choose this path like the players. But I did not due to all the possible pressures. The players in the movies are around our age, and they decided to go along the road no matter what. No one in the end regret about the career they choose. People around them start to understand them, especially their families. It really worth watching if you have similar experience with gaming. I believe with the time changing, the society will accept gaming later on. At least when I have kids, I will enjoy the games with them.

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